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Goodbye Pan Am HOV lanes, hello Gardiner construction

Patricia D'Cunha | posted Tuesday, Aug 18th, 2015


It’s the last morning commute of watching buses and taxis zoom by in the temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

The HOV lanes, which have been in place since July 29, will come to an end at 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

But many drivers are asking why the enforcement is continuing until Tuesday night, considering the Parapan Am Games ended on Saturday.

Toronto police Const. Craig Brister said the lanes were still in place to get the athletes to the airport on time.

The lanes accomplished “what we need to do in getting the athletes from the Athletes Village up to the airport on time so they can get their outgoing flights,” Brister said on Monday.

The HOV lanes were added to highways 401, 404, and 427, as well as the Don Valley Parkway, Gardiner Expressway, and Queen Elizabeth Way.

During the Pan Am Games, the 235-kilometre stretch of HOV lanes were open to vehicles with three or more people, public transit, taxis, emergency vehicles, and accredited games vehicles. For the Parapan Am Games, the HOV lanes were open to vehicles travelling with two or more people.

Ministry of Transportation officials say while the enforcement ends at 11 p.m., it will take days to remove the lane markings and signs. The work will be done during low traffic times so that it has a minimum affect on traffic.

“We will be doing it during off-peak hours, which means overnight lane reductions,” Astrid Poei, spokesperson with the ministry, said on Monday.

However, the HOV lanes could return to torment drivers in the form of toll lanes. Last month, Premier Kathleen Wynne said toll lanes will eventually be a reality and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

The premier said when and where the toll lanes will be placed has yet to be decided, but that her government wants to apply the lessons learned from the HOV lanes to create them.

And while the 235-kilometre stretch of HOV lanes will soon be gone, work on the Gardiner Expressway is set to resume on Wednesday, just in time for the Canadian National Exhibition.

The expressway will be reduced to two lanes in each direction from Strachan Avenue to Bathurst Street to replace the deck on the elevated portion of the Gardiner. The work, which was halted to ease traffic congestion during the Games, is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2016.


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